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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  April 10, 2017 2:00pm-3:01pm PDT

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found probably cause that the governor violate the campaign and ethic lays. presently denies breaking any laws. he was married to his new ex-wife for 50 years and will get another chance to defend himself tomorrow when he's scheduled to testify at the people hearing. that is, if it lasts. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper turning it over to wolf blitzer. >> happening or not, regime change or not? the white house says peace in syria is unimaginable under the dictator bashar al assad, but the administration is sending mixed messages and loafing open the possibility of more military action. what is president trump's next move? increasingly reckless. north korea slams the u.s. denounchesing what it calls washington's aggressive acts of war, but the kim regime is believed to be poised for another nuclear test. we'll go live to north korea this hour for an exclusive report. work it out. top trump advisers are scolded
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by the president after record of in-fighting between steve bannon and jared kushner go public. the white house says their differences are overblown. can they cooperate, or will one of them be pushed out? and logging on. watchdog groups sued to get a closer look at visitor logs from the white house and president trump's florida resort. should americans be able to see who is calling on the president at home. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." the white house is facing questions tonight about its next moves regarding syria with top administration officials sending mixed messages. press secretary zane spicer is echoing u.n. ambassador nikki haley on the future of the syrian leader bashar al assad calling the possibility of peace under his regime unimaginable. he's also leaving opening the possibility of new u.s. military strikes in response to attacks on syrian civilians.
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but secretary of state rex tillerson is downplaying regime change. he's heading to moscow which he says shares responsibility for the latest chemical attack on syrian civilians. tillerson clammed russia's failure to control syria's chemical weapons as incompetent. also, a cnn exclusive. we're live in north korea tonight where u.s. intelligence believes the kim jong-un regime is ready to conduct a nuclear test at any time. the country is vowing to accelerate its nuclear program defying president trump. we're covering all of that. much more this hour with our guests including senator chris murphy of the senate foreign relations committee and then our correspondents and expert analysts are also standing by. let's begin with the syrian crisis now facing president trump. our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto is joining us with the late e. jim, the white house is keeping the door open right now to more military act. >> reporter: that's right, and the white house spokesman sean spitzer opening the door to
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another path, another justification for military action, not just the use of chemical weapons saying that the use of barrel bombs would also be unacceptable, might prompt a u.s. response. of course, the difference there is they are used frequently, including many times, since the u.s. military strike on friday. will are the white house follow through on that apparent threat? that comes at the same time that senior administration officials are sending out contradictory messages on what exactly the goal is of u.s. policy in syria. tonight syrian warplanes taking off from the same air base hit by a u.s. missile strike friday. the white house says it has not ruled out further military action there but it is sending mixed, even contradictory messages on the administration's goals in syria. u.n. absto the u.n. says regime change is inevitable. following last week's chemical weapons attack which sparked the u.s. military action.
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>> regime clank is something we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for syria. >> reporter: secretary of state rollergirl soviet republic, however, appeared to say the opposite, placing his faith in a political process inside syria over any outside action. i think our strategy in syria, as you know, it's first the defeat of isis and through that political process that we believe the syrian people will ultimately be able to decide the fate of bashar al assad. >> reporter: white house press secretary sean spicer seemed to acknowledge both end games. >> i can't imagine a stable and peaceful syria where bashar al assad is in power. i think we all recognize than happens and there can be a multi-pronged approach. we're ensuring that isis is contained and there's a de-escalation of the proliferation of chemical weapons at the same time and creating the environment for a
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change in leadership. >> reporter: tillerson will bring his message to moscow. >> the recent terrible chemical weapons attack in large measure is a failure on russia's part to achieve its commitment to the international community. >> reporter: russia dismiss% the accusation accuse the u.s. instead of, quote, an act of aggression. tonight u.s. warplanes continue to fly over syria targeting isis forces, each as the syrian regime has increased its air defenses in the western part of the country. perhaps sensitive to questions about how long lasting the effects of the u.s. military strike on friday, the secretary of defense james mattis saying the strike destroyed 20% of the active syrian air foss and president trump tweeting about those questions as well this weekend. >> i saw that. thanks very much.
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jim sciutto reporting, our chief national security correspondent and let's get the latest from the white house, our white house correspondent jeff zeleny covering the president right now. jeff, syria is front and center in this whole infrastructure, this whole debate right now. >> reporter: it is indeed, wolf, front and center and it seems like the trump administration is still crafting policy as it moves along here. just a short time ago an administration official tried to clarify or walk back some of the press secretary's sean spice err's comments about the barrel bombs that jim was talking about there, saying, look, it does not represent a new red line. it does not represent a new sort of stipulation for military action here, but in always comes as this trump administration is trying to get back its footing here. syria at the center of this, but foreign policy now is dominating the conversations here. >> i can say that this is a great honor.
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>> and i got it done in the first 100 days. that's even nice. you think that's's. in the rose garden today president trump hailing the confirmation of justice neil gorsuch to the supreme court as the biggest accomplishment so far in his young president. >> i a new optimism is sweeping across our land and a new faisst in america is filling our hearts and lifting our sites. >> the president making clear that his eye is on the clock with the end of his first 100 days approaching with global threats and challenges mounting. white house press secretary sean spicer seemed to raise the stakes saying the president could act again in syria in response to conventional bombs, not only a chemical weapons attack like the one that killed dozens last week. >> if you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb in to innocent people, i think you will see a response from this president. >> reporter: tonight a new cbs news poll finds 57% of americans
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approved of the missile strikes last week in syria. yet americans are leery of the president getting more involved, the poll found. seven in ten americans believe the president needs authorization from congress and more than half of the republicans agree. mr. trump, then a private citizen also agreed saying obama needs congressle approval and as president he did not seek approval before unleashing 50 tomahawk cruise missiles on syrian targets last week. >> and why does he not need congressional apresident? >> the president has the full authority to the act when it's in the national interests. >> reporter: the white house says the president's america first agenda still stands and the action does not necessarily represent a new trump dock trip. with foreign policy front and center at the white house, infighting that has plagued the administration appears to have cooled, for now at least. tensions between steve bannon,
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the chief strategist and jared kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, reached a boiling point last week. cnn has learned the president stepped in telling them we've got to work this out. >> the reason the president brought this team together is to offer a diverse set of opinions. he doesn't want a monolithical kind of thought process going through the white house and wants a diverse set of opinions. he's the decider. >> reporter: must have crossed a line if he said to work it out. >> i'm not going to get into what happens internally but sometimes things might spill out in the public more than other things. >> sticking with steve bannon. >> he's very confident with the team that he has, they have an unbelievable amount of knowledge and -- and -- and he enjoys the counsel that they all bring to this table. >> reporter: and things indeed did spill out into the open. there was a very public disagreement last week, and syria is one of the items that they actually disagree on. i'm told that steve bannon, the chief strategist was against the
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military strikes in syria, at least arguing, you know, perhaps a wait and see. many on the right outside the administration have also been against this policy. others have been advising him to go forward. wolf, i think that explains many could of the confusion here that we're seeing this evening about what the president's red line is, what it isn't. it's one of the central reasons members of congress are sayingy that want to ear a serious strategy from this administration. >> jeff, change you. jeff zeleny over at the white house. let's get more on all of this. democratic snort chris murphy of connecticut, a member of the senate foreign relations committee. thanks for joining us. >> of course. >> do you support regime change in syria in order to remove bashar al assad? >> i don't. i think that's a messy business that the united states should not be involved in, at least from a military standpoint. we have the capacity to put political pressure on russia and iran to try to get a political process in place that may allow for assad to stay for a short period of time and transition to a new leader, but the idea that the united states is going to go
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in with military power to remove him just misremembers all of the lessons from our attempt to do something similar in iraq, so i would hope that the president, to the extend he has any additional military plans in syria, will come talk to congress about it because i'll tell you he'll found an american public that's very reluctant to carry out regime change. >> what about the slaughter, that's gone on for six years, 400,000 killed, millions of refugees internally, externally. the u.s. has not gotten involved militarily until now against bashar al assad's regime and a lot of folks are saying maybe it's time. >> the u.s. has been involved. >> against isis in syria but not against bashar al assad's regime. this was the first military action. >> the first direct military action but the united states has been providing weapons and training. >> limit the. how has that worked out so far? >> it hasn't worked out. >> at all. >> it hasn't worked out because it's given the rebels just enough support in order to continue the fight but not
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enough to win the fight. >> and you blame the obama administration? >> i blame the obama administration. >> they were derelict in their responsibility. >> they had a policy in syria that did not work in part becausy in prolonged the conflict by putting just enough military support in to keep it going. >> but you agree bashar al assad is a butcher? >> he's a butcher and deserves everything that he get and ultimately it's one of the wreens why the united states should at the very least have a policy of anyone who wants to escape that area, and not providing them a way to escape at refugees is inhumane. >> one, 59 tom how many cruise missiles hitting this air base. there hasn't been extensive military action. let me tell you what marco rubio, you're republican colleague in the senate said, as long has bashar al assad is in syria, quote, there will be a reason for people to be radicalize. do you disagree with that thinking? is he radicalized as a lot of people? >> i agree.
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it's a question of whether we're expressing a position or a policy. we want bashar al assad out but our priority should be on stopping the violence. if we can achieve a cease-fire that potentially gives some transition to new leadership, then we should entertain that notion. right now the priority should be on stopping the violence from both sides. >> do you have any doubt that he was responsible, bashar al assad, for the chemical attack at idlib that killed all those civilians, including those kids? >> of course he was responsible. he was responsible for that attack and the 650 children that side last year inside syria. he's responsible for all of the bloodshed inside that country. >> what should the u.s. do in response to a chemical weapons attack which violates international law and brands him for all practical purposes a war criminal. >> try him as a war criminal and come out and say the united states will lead in the international consensus to bring him to justice and put pressure on the russians and iranians in order to join us. let's be clear. the russians were complicit in
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this. >> when you say complicit, did they know in advance that he was going do that? did they help him or did they just turn their eyes away? >> i think that at least conceivable that the russians are the ability to veto this action and chose not to, and they have may have decided to do that because they thought they had a permission slip from the united states in the days and weeks leading up to that action, so i -- so i'm -- i see as positive this change in red risk and policy that the trump administration has vis-a-vis russia because it may put pressure and leverage on russia to get back to the effort of trying to rid assad of every single one of these chemical weapons. >> the white house press secretary that you heard of, sean spicer, he today said if you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb into innocent people, president trump is going to react. we know he has reacted to a chemical weapons attack, but now he's suggesting you put a barrel bomb, they have been using barrel bombs for months. these these all of weapons that can be dropped from a
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helicopter. they got shrapnel and nail and they make and kill and destroy. these are all of, all of weapons. should the u.s. respond if there are more barrel bomb attacks against innocent civilians including children? >> so i don't know how we would eventually unwind that commitment, right. if we're going to go in and respond to every single human rights violation inside syria then let's be honest about what we're proposing to do. we're prosing about invading syria and carrying out the job until that's done. that's a massive endeavor and hundreds of thousands of u.s. troops. i don't think my constituents in connecticut would spot that. they would support humanitarian effort, military efforts but not an invasion of syria. >> what from he could do it through air power alone, not just tom haul missiles but warplanes going in and leveling all of the syrian air bases and destroying their planes from the air, not on the ground? >> he can't do it with air power alone. >> he could do a lot of damage to his regime. >> you can, but, remember,
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there are russian air defenses that were not triggered for this limited tomahawk missile strike but would likely be trigger federal there was a broader campaign against syrian assets. we're potentially getting involved or sending signals of getting involved in a hypercomplicated proxy war in which there are major powers, the russians and ranians, with assets on the ground. future air campaigns won't go as smoothly as this tomahawk missile strike did. >> afraid that the u.s. could get engaged in another iraq or afghanistan and stay there for a long time. >> should be all of our worry. >> stand by. much more to discuss. let's take a quick break. we'll be right back. i mean wish i had time to take care of my portfolio, but..
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well, what are you doing tomorrow -10am? staff meeting. noon? eating. 3:45? uh, compliance training. 6:30? sam's baseball practice. 8:30? tai chi. yeah, so sounds relaxing.
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the white house says more u.s. military action against syria is possible as president trump weighs his next move, and top administration officials send mixed messages on whether the dictator, bashar al assad, has to go. we're back with democratic senator chris murphy of connecticut, a member of the foreign relations committee. the white house secretary sean spicer said and i'm quoting article 2 of the constitution is pretty clear when it comes to the national interests of the country that the president as commander in chief can do in a situation like this as he sees fit. do you agree that the president has the authority, the legal constitutional authority, that he had it to launch those 59 tomahawk cruise missiles? >> he clearly does not have that authority and that is a complete misread of the constitution. the constitution says that if it is in the national interest of the united states to take military action overseas it's only the congress that can authorize it. there's a limited exception
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built in if the security of the united states was under imminent fillet and that's not the case inside syria so he absolutely needs congressional authorization, and by the way we also have about 500 u.s. troops sitting is inside syria today with an undefined mission, no exit plan. we have to have a broad conversation about whether or not we're going to launch more attacks against bashar al assad and what we are going to do with the 500 troops that are getting -- >> some think there's 11,000 troops. and their submission to fight isis in and around raqqa, the caliphate capital. here's how the president justified his authority to go with in action. he wrote a letter to the house and senate leadership. he said over the weekend he said i acted in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the united states pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as commander in chief and chief executive. is that good enough for you? >> it's not good enough. he does have the power and the
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responsibility to conduct relations with other countries, but the constitution is very clear when it comes to war-making, when it comes to military activity, that's a congressional prerogative. president obama understood that. that's why he asked for authorization from congress before bombing syria. he wasn't likely to get, if but that was for a good reason. that's because the american public were very reticent to support that kind of military action in syria, and though i think they might support this limited strike, if there's a broad engagement, then you absolutely have to come and talk to congress because i don't think the american public are going to give the president that kind of latitude. >> i know all this is happening as the trump administration is recommending some significant cuts in foreign aid to various countries. you are bitterly opposed to that. tim us why. >> not only am i opposed to it, but i unveiled a plan today to dramatically increase the resources that the president has outside of the u.s. military. why? because there are all sorts of new threats posed to this country. very few of them frankly are military in nature.
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they are propaganda threats. they are threats from energy bullies. they are threats from people that are expanding their economic footprint like china. we need a series of non-military tools to match those that our adversaries have and general mattis himself has said that if you cut the foreign affairs budget, the budget that tries to grow stability in places like the middle east, you have to give him more bullets. the two budgets are complementary and it makes no sense to power up the power of the defense at the expense of the -- >> do you think you've got the support in congress to fight the president on this? >> i think we've got support to at least holt steady on the state department budget. john mccain, lindsey graham and marco rubio understand the importance of the state department budget. >> senator, thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> lots to assess. coming up, cnn's exclusive reporting from north korea amid rising tensions with the united states. american warships are now on the way to the region and kim
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jong-un appears to be preparing for another nuclear test this. hour we'll go live to the north korean capital for an update. cat the market. but through good times and bad... ...at t. rowe price... ...we've helped our investors stay confident for over 75 years. call us or your advisor. t. rowe price. invest with confidence.
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change your wifi password to something you can actually remember, instantly. add that premium channel, and watch the show everyone's talking about, tonight. and the bill you need to pay? do it in seconds. because we should fit into your life, not the other way around. go to xfinity.com/myaccount the white house says the missile strike on a syrian air base sent a message to the regime of president bashar al assad, but as mixed signals emerge from the trump administration, one question remains exactly what message did the president intend to send? let's bring in our panel. chris cillizza, listen to the white house press secretary sean spicer at today's briefing speaking about the future of the syrian regime. >> i can't imagine a stable and peaceful syria where bashar al
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assad is in power. >> yesterday we heard from rex tillerson, the secretary of state, and he said that removing bashar al assad is still not necessarily a top u.s. priority. what is it? >> right, and we heard from nikki haley, the u.n. ambassador who sounded a lot like language-wise like sean spicer. what is it? i don't know that they know candidly, wolf. there's no obvious answer here. i always remind people this is -- this is not on donald trump necessarily. this is deeply complex set offish are use. there are no good options from a policy perspective boston also from a political perspective. lot of polling in the last 24 hours where people broadly speaking support the strike that was made against the air base but don't -- there's no consensus or anything close to a consensus, diplomacy alone or air strikes without ground force and 70% of the people do not
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want ground troops in the area. >> another remarkable statement that sean spicer delivered today at his briefing, elise, and it involved what is called barrel bombing. i want you to listen to this. >> yeah. >> if you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb in to innocent people, i think you can -- you will see a response from this president. that is unacceptable. >> that was pretty remarkable. >> right. >> because the barrel bombings have been going on. >> daley. >> almost daily for what, months if not years? >> it certainly is assad's weapon of choice, and if he was going to say that if you have a barrel bomb, we'll be striking, then the u.s. would be essentially striking every time that assad would bomb his people. i think, you know, he might have been confused about the language and also some of these barrel bombs do have chlorine use. they are filled with chlorine. >> they are filled with shrapnel and nails that can be dropped from helicopters hat relatively low levels and if it hits a school or hospital -- >> it's much more incendiary than any other weapon.
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>> destroys all these people and kids. >> this is assad's weapon of choice and has been using it almost daily against his people and the question is this really going to be a red line? i they he might have misspoke there. we're waiting for some kind of clarification with the white house and this is the issue with words and the ideas that words matter. i mean, when we're talking about this issue of regime change, there's been a lot made about nikki haley and rex tillerson having different messages. i think it's just a matter of words. what nikki healy is saying there's no way that anybody is going to want assad at the end of this. tillerson is not going as far. i think nikki healy is much more forceful and much more articulate about it, but essentially it's the idea that everybody hopes that at the end that the syrian people and all the parties involved will assume that assad won't be there. i don't think nick dehaley was saying that the united states is going to go and take out assad. >> and the doper that the united states gets into syria the
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farther they are away from donald trump's campaign promise of america first and him having to explain a broader conflict there, and they haven't really done that yet. they haven't really -- i mean, you've had some, as you said, different statements from tillerson and nikki haley. that said the trump doctrine was america first and staying out of the middle east. >> you know, they did issue what they are calling a clarification after the briefing on the barrel bombing threat. this is from a white house official. nothing has changed in our posture. the president retains the option to act in syria against the assad regime whenever it is in the national interest as was determined following that government's use of chemical weapons against its own citizens, and as the president has repeatedly made clear, he won't be telegraphing his military responses. >> right. okay. the difficult thing and spicer said this a number of times and president trump said this a number of times. we're not going to tell you the tactics we're going to use and not going to tell you the strategy. which is okay. >> there's nothing wrong with
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that. >> it's indistinguishable, wolf, from the possibility that the broader strategy doesn't just exist. >> that's right. >> i'll tell you -- i'm not going to tell you my secret of how i dunk a basketball and it's also possible i can't dunk a basketball. i think you have to think of it in that context. i understand the desire not to telegraph and this is to jackie's point. this is at this point a one-off in a region that demands some broader strategic thinking to it. we don't need to know everything, but i do think you need to know some sort of brought outline or blueprint which you've not gotten yet and i don't know whether it exists or not. >> but it's all taking place on the eve of secretary tillerson's trip to moscow. >> absolutely. >> he'll be meeting with the russian foreign minister. i don't know if there's going to be a meeting with putin, maybe there won't be. maybe there will be, but this could be a critically important session, elise. >> i think, you know, look, for years, secretary of state kerry was saying when he was negotiating with foreign minister laugheroff. i don't have any leverage.
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the sh kno the russians know the u.s. won't take any military action. tillerson will take a very strong approach of making russia culpable for assad's action and this is a strategic risk for you now and he's going -- the u.s. having just bombed the syrians and the maybe they will again and i this does strengthen his and. on the putin meeting. it's on, it's off. right now the kremlin is not saying. >> right now they are saying it's not going to happen. >> they are playing with him a little bit. rex tillerson when he was chairman of exxon mobil. he went to russia and got a friendship prize from putin at the time so he's someone known to the russians. >> and he's -- he shade during his confirmation hearings that this is a different job and his customer is the president and the united states and not exxon mobil and it is important to point out that this tougher talk
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towards russia is endearing trump to some republicans that were very skeptical of his relationship with vladimir putin and his tone toward the russians so he might be bringing his party around him through these actions as -- as a result. >> and one thing he needs, by the way, to that point, wolf, is he needs a united congressional front because, remember, these investigations, the congressional investigation, the justice department investigation into the russian meddling into the election aren't going away. he needs as many defenders from capitol hill as possible. >> everybody stay with us. don't go too far away. we'll continue our analysis of all of these important issues right after this. think again. this is the new new york. we are building new airports all across the state. new roads and bridges. new mass transit. new business friendly environment. new lower taxes. and new university partnerships to grow the businesses of tomorrow today.
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as president trump approaches his 100th day in office, rumors of a staff shake-up are feeding tensions within the white house. the president's chief strategist steve bannon is under pressure to work out his differences with more moderate advisers, including the president's son-in-law jared kushner. a lot of the core constituency that helped get donald trump elected, they are not very happy right now, as you know, chris, that steve pan none is being criticized. >> and elise mentioned this in the last segment. this was not someone who was elected on the idea that we're going to respond in syria. this is someone who was elected on the make -- make america great again. america first. all of these ideas. so, yes, that alienates a part of the party. the bannon/kushner thing was inevitable in some ways because you have four people deputized,
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bannon and kushner and kellyanne conway and reince priebus deputizeded with no specific demarkation of who is doing what and steve bannon and jared kushner are so different in terms of world view, background, you how they come at issues, what they care about, that putting the two of them together in saying work it out is -- is going to be difficult. >> you remember, jackie, that president obama predicted that the challenge, the responsibility of being president of the united states will convince donald trump eventually to adopt more moderate positions. >> i don't know that we're there yerkts i really don't. this is all new. they are trying to work it out, and jared kushner does have the advantage of being family, and it's very hard to win against family if you're on the outside, but this is very complicated. as chris said, a lot of people that got trump elected really like steve bannon's philosophy of really trying to shake up washington, hasn't's not the only loyalist there.
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there are steve miller. there's jeff sessions who is his attorney general, who very much come more from the bannon school, so this is a conflict that i don't think will even -- if bannon does leave will be over. >> you're our global affairs correspondent. >> i am. >> how are people outside of the united states, leaders, seeing this battle that's going on inside the white house? >> well, i think, you know, when you saw that flynn resigned and they moved, to you know, h.r. mcmaster. >> as national security adviser. >> and dina powell as the deputy, i think -- i was just in israel and europe and the middle east, and basically what diplomats are saying that this shows that president trump for all of the concern that people had in the beginning, that he is able to course correct, and it is giving i think allies a little bit of comfort, as was the strike in syria, you know. i talked to some diplomats and they said, listen, this is giving confidence that u.s. leadership is back there. we're looking for the president to take -- president obama to
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take action in syria. there was a perception he was retreating from the middle east and now you have a president, you know, who took decisive action. i think it's too early to say that this is a strategy or a trend or a doctrine, but i think that they do -- they do see some positive trends. i will say who is not so happy though are trump's populist kind of right wing supporters abroad. you saw marine le pen speaking very derogatorily about the strike and nigel farage. >> and with trump, it's a day-to-day presidency. >> right. >> which is this is this predictive of something? we have a tendency in our business and the political world more broadly to see shape and form and the direction it's moving is this, and new look at his campaign it would suggest that the only sort of plan is
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that there isn't a plan. i always go back drew. executive. he went in and sat in his office in trump tower. no, nothing on his desk. no plans, no meetings and he would like it to come to him. let the day come to him. i wonder if that's the presidency we're witnessing, that there isn't sort of a broad arc to it. >> he didn't get repeal and replace of obamacare, at least not yet. his travel ban one and two still before the courts. he did get a big win though with the supreme court nominee who is now the ninth associate justice. that's a huge, huge win for the president. >> and expect to hear a lot about that, about neil gorsuch. >> he's only 49 years old. he's going to be sitting on the bench for maybe 30 or 40 years right now. that will have an enormous impact. >> and you're right, that cannot be diminished and nothing unites the republican party, we talked about it with russia, more so than had a supreme court pick that could help change the --
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the court for generation and keep an eye on if someone else retires, whether it's justice ginsberg or justice kennedy, the next court pick will also just be a huge deal for the republican party, and you'll see that coalescing around him and that nominee again. >> you agree. that's a big win? >> that's a big win and always his best argument to upify republicans. i'm going to nominate justices that you agree with much more than hillary clinton. >> and he released that list during the campaign. >> one of his best days. >> more coming up. kim jong-un appears to be poised for another missile test. he vows to continue his weapons program despite threats from the trump administration. cnn is on the ground in pyongyang in north korea with an exclusive update. well, a 103 yeah, 103. well, let me ask you guys. how long did it take you two to save that? a long time.
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. we have exclusive reporting from north korea tonight. the country is vowing to accelerate its nuclear weapons program, defined new pressure from the trump administration. a new aircraft carrier strike group is heading towards the region. there is a warning that president trump has a full range of options to respond to kim jong-un's threats. will ripley is the only u.s. journalist reporting from north korea. joining us live from pyongyang. will, there's high tension in the region. give us the latest. >> reporter: just days before vice president pence heads to the region here, there are indications that china may be taking action against the north korean regime of that meeting
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with president trump and chinese president ping, reports flashing on reuters that chinese traders have been told to return shipments of north korean coal, a major revenue generator for the regime which continues to grow its nuclear program, nuclear envoys for south korea pledging to take strong action which they haven't specified if north korea conducts its sixth nuclear test which is believed could happen at any time. facing mounting global pressure to stop testing nuclear weapons, many fear kim jong-un might accelerate his weapons program and they are awaiting his next move. on saturday north korea celebrates the day of the sun, their most important holiday of the year, honoring the birth of the nation's founding father, kim il-sung. trying to launch a satellite two days before the day of the sun, the first attempt failed, followed by successful launch
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later that year. now north korea may be ready for another dramatic show of force. after a series of missile launches, u.s. and south korean intelligence officials believe north korea is ready to conduct a nuclear test at any time. in response to recent provocations, the u.s. is rerouting the carrier strike group carl vinson to the korean peninsula. just days after president trump's surprised missile strike on syria. some view the strike as a warning to north korea. the u.s. is willing to respond with force if provoked. the situation is so tense, we're at the brink of war, says this pyongyang resident. but if that happens, we will all go to the front lines to fight the americans. president trump may be trying to put pressure north korea to stop nuclear weapons but here in pyongyang that seems to have the opposite effect. one telling cnn the aggressive acts of war on the part of the
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united states are getting increasingly reckless. in response we will continue to strengthen ourself defense capability. north korea is working to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the mainland u.s. most analyst say they don't have one yet but it is only matter of time. >> we think we're very capable of defending ourselves, this pyongyang resident says, because we have the marshal of kim jong-un. they are not tense but festive on their biggest holiday week of the year. tens of thousands visiting national land marks like the birthplace of late president kim il-sung. more than 10020 rooms chronicling all three generations of kim family leadership. this rare inside look at north korean history shows the entire nation is built around these three men.
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i'm shown footage from 2011 when north koreans learned of the unexpected death of the nation's second leader, kim jong il. footage brings our guide to tears. now their supreme leader is leading her and 25 million north koreans like his grandfather and father before him. he has absolute power over the lives of his people. we could hear kim jong-un himself speak later today. the supreme people's assembly kicks off just hours from now but of course the votes are always unanimous, no political descent allowed here, wolf. it's kim jong-un who decides what this country does in regards to the nuclear program moving forward. >> will ripley with the exclusive reporting from pyongyang north korea. will, thank you very, very much. coming up, new details of the damage from the u.s. strike opt syrian air base. what will trump's next move be?
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happening now. is the white house drawing another red line on bashar al-assad's brutality? tonight, growing questions about trump's syrian policy and whether it is a definitive global position. as u.s. warships go towards north korea, kim jong-un could order another missile test at any time. both are ramping up the possibility for military conflict. white house divided. telling kushner and bannon to work out their

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